New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




The Case of the Illegal Wall Sconce


Alteration Agreements
Aug. 1, 2016

Smart co-op and condo boards have an iron-clad alterations policy to deal with residents who want to modify or combine apartments. But sometimes boards make demands that seem unreasonable – or downright weird.

It happened recently in Chelsea, when a family moved into a co-op and replaced the wall sconces in one bedroom’s walls – without changing the wiring in the walls, since it was already in place. Now the building’s management has asked the shareholders to remove the sconces since, the manager claims, wiring in the walls is illegal in New York City.

Is this true? Or is this nuts?

Running electrical wires through walls is legal in New York City, writes the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times. If it weren’t, this would be a city without light switches – or wall sconces.

“The issue really hinges on why the building is saying the wiring is illegal,” says Jos Dudgeon, a principal of TriState Sustainable, a general contractor in Manhattan. Most proprietary leases require board approval for alterations, which usually includes wiring, adds Slava Hazin, a Manhattan real estate lawyer.

The shareholder is advised to call the Department of Buildings or a licensed electrician to examine the wiring. If it's deemed sound, notify the board.


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